Use the royalty money to pay for this, instead of using it to keep them drunk, and high 24/7.John of Nakara.

That was just one of a few similar comments on the NT News website in response to the announcement late last week by the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation of the launch of a “25-year plan to raise the health and wellbeing of their children to the same level as other Australian children.

Gundjeihmi represents the Mirarr Aboriginal people that are the traditional Aboriginal owners of parts of Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory.

Gundjeihmi’s presser was a little vague about what this plan would do and how it would do it but it will involve the participation of a group called  Children’s Ground. The CEO of Children’s Ground, Jane Vadiveloo, said the project represented a new paradigm for working with disadvantaged communities in Australia.

“This is a bold new approach that will celebrate Aboriginal knowledge, capture the ability in communities, and bring the scale and quality of resources needed for kids to have the very best in learning, wellbeing and economic development over the long term,” Ms Vadiveloo said.

This “bold new approach” would involve funding and participation from Gundjeihmi, Children’s Ground and the Kakadu West Arnhem Social Trust, with representation from Gundjeihmi and Energy Resources of Australia, which runs the local uranium mine. One of Gundjeihmi’s main sources of income is mining royalty equivalent payments under the Northern Territory Land Rights Act.

This project received good local media coverage, with the local ABC running several radio and TV pieces. AAP put it out on the wires and the local daily the NT News ran a nice piece by David Wood the day after that included a quote from Mirarr elder Annie Ngalmirama, who was proud that her people could take the lead.

The main thing is that we are happy to be doing this ourselves,” she said.

“We Aboriginal people are taking the lead in this matter. We’re going on ahead and making this funding ourselves and we are doing this work to make this project happen”. … She was announcing the Jabiru-based Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation had signed a 25-year agreement with the Children’s Ground organisation, and put $1 million of its own money, into an approach to education, health, wellbeing and development different from anything that has been done in Australia before. The Federal Government has also put in $2 million.

The piece in the NT News had a little more detail on what to project would entail.

The proponents say it will be early intervention to help families manage and include counsellors and rather than being crisis driven, proactive, aiming at better health, education, more jobs, stronger traditional culture and happier people. “While difficult to conceptualise it will be health and education workers going to the more than 400 traditional people in Kakadu.

So far so good. The Mirrar clan group, who have travelled some very hard yards in looking after their land, culture and people (see the background to their struggle with uranium mining here for an example) now want to tip on $1 million of their own funds – money due to them under the scheme established by the NT Land Rights Act – and have managed to convince the Commonwealth Government to tip on another $2 million to top it up.

You’d think that this was a good news story all round yeah?

Well, not for some readers of the NT News, which opened a comments column on David Woods’ article that has drawn some less than charitable responses.

Of the twenty-one comments as at Tuesday afternoon most were negative and seven were either positive, neutral or railed against the racism inherent in the negative comments. Here is a selection.

Mot123 of Townsville in Queensland reckoned.

more millions spent…not sure all that money will wind up being spent wisely.?…probably not..

Fred of NT asked:

How much is this going to cost me? Why do we continuously have these segregated services? separate health clinics, separate services? They even have separate building societies to bank with. Just nuts. I know, how a about one system for ALL.

Which drew this response from Jatu.

@ Fred of NT 7:43am Thursday–you are right. and why English as a second language ? There is an awful lot of money given to them but their living standard is this same as it was. where is the money ? to live healthier & better life they have to do thing for themselves.

Gabrianga of YWD blamed the locals for not agreeing to further uranium mining on their land:

If the Gundjeihmi had let Jabiluka go ahead instead of being mislead by the Green activists the people could have done a lot more. Of course those who blocked Jabiluka and Koongarra still cling to the mining royalties and lease rentals from the Ranger uranium mine.

I’m not quire sure just what point John of Nakara was trying to make but I think you can tell where he is coming from.

Use the royalty money to pay for this, instead of using it to keep them drunk, and high 24/7

Another Member Of The Darwin Community took umbrage at the Children’s Ground project on very personal grounds:

Funding it yourselves eh? – With which industry, service or product? So far the money wasted on CDEP training programmes to promote the basic maintenance of public provided housing hasn’t worked, but this is the newest idea? – Im being played as a fool and its insulting. And of course for some, like Mike Missionary of Humpty Doo, it is all about the money: How much more money do we have to give to bring these people into this century ? ? ?

grumpytrev of Malak obviously doesn’t understand how the Land Rights Act royalty process work in the NT or just how minor $2 million of Federal government funds actually is in the scheme of things.

1 million of theirs and 2 million of the federal governmenst [sic] equals 3 million of taxpayers money.

Thankfully there were some voices of reason that chose to kick against the redneck pricks.

Cynical reckoned that:

Instead of all the negative comments, try wishing this group well and hoping it works. At least here is a group that have spoken up, admitted there are problems and for once using their royalty monies to work for their own people, namely the children. I am confident it will work, because this is NOT a govt forced programme, but one of their own choosing and choice. I would like to see similar offered to help white families as well, rather than FACS be the only option given.

While the uneducated and ignorant rednecks state of IHD-CDU made his or her point short & sharp.

once again, the uneducated, ignorant racists of the NT are bad mouthing Aboriginal people here….

And enlightened without a god of Perth [WA], while either dyslectic or posting in from a phone on the train reckoned that the best response to redneckery lay in evolution.

Not sure the rednecks here fully understand the business of Gundjeihmi, a coproration funded predominatnlythrough mining royalites. to those that say one for all, consider other diversity needs, if you want a pension when you are older, if you suddenly had a disability, if your first language and culture didnt fit into the maisntream.  Yes a minotiry, but a minority in our own country. lets hope Darwinism plays out with your genetics and you and your atitudes fade from existence.

Nola Turner-Jensen of Brisbane (the only one to put her full name to her comment – a big shout out to her), reckons that the project is an:

Oustanding idea and project – we as a people can all stand up and fund, design or support our own programs. There are many Aboriginal programs/businesses/projects that are self funded in Australia.

The NT News should be congratulated for opening their articles for comments from their readers – it is what contemporary journalism can do well. And the NT News has a rather sensible “Comments Policy” that you can read here.

Without drilling down too deeply into that policy I note that rule number 3 states:

3. Racist comments will not be tolerated – Comments that denigrate a person/group on the basis of their ethnicity or religion will not be approved.

For mine I reckon a few of these comments cross that line and should have attracted the attention of the moderator and either been edited or withdrawn. As I said above the NT News provides a useful service to readers to engage in discussions on topics of local interest and importance.

But the comments shown here are unfortunately typical of the intemperate and unreasonable sprays that some think they can foist upon the rest of us and appear all too commonly in the comments pages of the NT News. It is certainly encouraging that people respond to the more extreme and intemperate comments with (reasonably) well-reasoned arguments and facts.

But maybe the NT News – if it wants to be serious about providing a genuine platform for debate – should insist on a ‘real names only’ rule for those posting comments?

Over to you for your thoughts.

Photo caption: GAC Chairperson Annie Ngalmirama with Children’s Ground CEO Jane Vadiveloo, Malcolm Nango (aged 7) and Kakadu West Arnhem Social Trust Chair David Ward announcing kick-start funding for innovative 25 year health and wellbeing program Children’s Ground.